I finally did it: I finished the first read-through and notes for The Patchwork King. Not the editing, not by a long shot, but I have a big list of problems that need to be solved. I just need to figure out some way to do so.
I think of this phase as being like taking a 5,000 piece puzzle you bought at a thrift shop and dumping it out on the floor. And then realizing that you only have 4,000 of the pieces. Most of what you need is there, and can be assembled into something coherent. As for the rest, well, it’s time to improvise. You can have a guess based on that shape of the surrounding pieces, but in the end it’s still a guess.
But, hey, the good news is, you might make something better than the picture on the box.
To help with the assembly, I started doing character rankings. Where these people fall of the Scales of Important Things: tenacity, survival instinct, ability to plan, capacity for love, capacity for violence. Like stats cards: So-and-so has an eight out of ten on survival, but only a four on social graces and a two on forward thinking. I don’t know if this helps yet, but it keeps me entertained.
One odd thing: two of my characters ranked almost identically on their caring for other people and their sheer ruthlessness. One is the antagonist. The other is one of the protagonists.
Odd connection, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. They are two people who will do anything for those they care about. There is no line that they will not cross. The only difference is that the antagonist will first sacrifice others in pursuit of this goal, where the protagonist will first sacrifice herself. The same root, but very different outcomes.
It’s something that sets them apart from most of the other characters, including the other protagonist. She has to watch these two fall into darkness and decide: will I follow? Or will I try and find another way, knowing that it means I might fail? It will not be an easy choice for her.
So, give this some thought for your Monday Challenge: Write your main character’s line. What will they not do, for any reason or for any person? What are the depths to which they will not sink? Where is their stopping point?
And what, if anything, could ever make them cross it?